Researchers at the California State University have found that teens who are more grateful than their counterparts are more happy, less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and less likely to have behaviour problems at school.
"Gratitude played an important role in many areas of positive mental health of the teens in our study," lead author and professor Giacomo Bono said.
"Increases in gratitude over a four-year period were significantly related to improvements in life satisfaction, happiness, positive attitudes and hope," Bono added.
Researchers asked 700 students aged 10 to 14 to complete questionnaires in their classroom at the beginning of the study and four years later to provide comparison data.
When comparing the results of the least grateful 20 per cent of the students with the most grateful 20 per cent, they found that teens with the most gratitude by the end of the four-year period had gained 15 per cent more of a sense of meaning in their life.
Among other findings were that grateful teenagers had become 15 per cent more satisfied with their life overall (at home, at school, with their neighbourhood, with their friends and with themselves.
Another 17 per cent were more happy and more hopeful about their lives, experienced a 13 per cent drop in negative emotions and a 15 per cent drop in depressive symptoms.
Even if teens didn't start off with lots of gratitude, they could still benefit if they developed more gratitude over the four-year period, the researchers claim.
"They experienced many of the same improvements in well-being. Moreover, they showed slight reductions overall in delinquency, such as alcohol and drug use, cheating on exams, skipping school, detention and administrative discipline," he said.
"These findings suggest that gratitude may be strongly linked with life-skills such as cooperation, purpose, creativity and persistence and, as such, gratitude is vital resource that parents, teachers and others who work with young people should help youth build up as they grow up," Bono said.